Japan’s Abe says will make every effort to reduce tension between US, Iran

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Japan wants to make every effort to reduce tension between the United States and Iran before responding to an expected US request to send its navy to safeguard strategic waters off Iran, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday.

Japanese media have said Washington’s proposal to boost surveillance of vital Middle East oil shipping lanes off Iran and Yemen, where it blames Iran and its proxies for tanker attacks, could be on the agenda during a visit to Tokyo this week by US national security adviser John Bolton.

Abe said that before making a decision on joining with the United States, Tokyo would like to fulfill what it sees as a unique role it has to play in reducing tension.

“We have a long tradition of friendship with Iran and I’ve met with its president any number of times, as well as other leaders,” Abe told a news conference after his coalition’s victory in a Sunday election for parliament’s upper house.

“Before we make any decisions on what to do, Japan would like to make every effort to reduce tensions between Iran and the United States,” he said.

Tokyo needs to gather information on what Washington is thinking and what it hopes to accomplish, Abe said, but added that the two key allies remain in close contact.

As Abe spoke, Bolton was meeting Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, although the two did not speak to the media before their talks. Bolton, who heads to South Korea after Japan, earlier met top Japanese national security adviser Shotaro Yachi.

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